the enemy was marching directly to our rear through the cedars; communication with Generals Rosecrans or Thomas was entirely cut off, and it was manifestly impossible for my command to hold the position without eventually making a hopeless, fruitless sacrifice of the whole division. To retire was but to cut our way through the ranks of the enemy. The order was given and manfully executed, driving back the enemy in front and checking his approaching column in our rear.
All the regiments in my command distinguished themselves for their coolness and daring, frequently halting and charging the enemy under a withering fire of musketry. On approaching General Rousseau's line, the battalion of regulars, under command of Major King, at my request gallantly charged forward to our assistance, sustaining a severe loss in officers and men in the effort. Colonels Stanley and Miller now promptly reformed their brigades with the remaining portions of the batteries, and took position on the new line, as designated by Major-General Thomas. Shortly afterward the Twenty-ninth Brigade was ordered to the left to repel an attack from the enemy's cavalry on the trains. The troops remained in line all night and the next day in order of battle until noon, when the division was ordered to the right of General McCook's line, in expectation of an attack upon his front.
The next day, January 2, at 1 p.m., my command was ordered to the support of General Crittenden on the left, and took position in the rear of the batteries on the west bank of Stone's River. About 3 p.m. a strong force of the enemy, with artillery, advanced rapidly upon General Van Cleve's division, which, after sustaining a severe fire for twenty or thirty minutes, fell back in considerable disorder, the enemy pressing vigorously forward to the river bank. At this important moment the Eighth Division was ordered to advance, which it did promptly, the men crossing the river and charging up the steep bank with unflinching bravery.
The Twenty-first, Eighteenth, Sixty-ninth, and Seventy-fourth Ohio, Nineteenth Illinois, Eleventh Michigan, Thirty-seventh Indiana, and Seventy-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers displayed their usual promptness and gallantry.
Four pieces of artillery and a stand of colors, belonging to the Twenty-sixth (rebel) Tennessee, were captured at the point of the bayonet, and a large number of prisoners, the enemy retreating in disorder.
It is proper to mention here that the artillery practice of Schultz's, Mendenhall's, Standart's, Nell's, Marshall's, and Stoke's batteries, which were acting temporarily under my orders in this engagements, was highly satisfactory, giving the enemy great tribulation. The promptness displayed by Captain Stokes in bringing his battery into action, by my orders, and the efficient manner in which it was served, affords additional evidence of his marked ability and bravery as an officer and patriot. In the same connection I feel permitted to speak in complimentary terms of the gallant Morton and his Pioneer Brigade, which marched forward under a scathing fire to the support of my division.
The enemy having fallen back to their intrenchments, my division recrossed the river and resumed its former position.
On the evening of the 4th, the Twenty-ninth Brigade was moved forward to the north bank to Stone's River, near the railroad, as an advance force. On the same day General Spear's First Tennessee Brigade was assigned to the Eighth Division. This brigade distinguished itself on the evening of the 3rd, in a desperate charge on the enemy, a report of which is included in General Spears' report, annexed.